INGLEWOOD, Calif. - A winning streak that began in a maiden race for statebreds at Del Mar in August shows no sign of ending for The Usual Q.T.
Sunday, the 3-year-old gelding won his third consecutive stakes, and most prestigious race to date, in the $300,000 Hollywood Derby at Hollywood Park.
Ridden by Victor Espinoza, The Usual Q.T. ($11.40) had an ideal trip in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby. The Usual Q.T. stalked pacesetter Straight Story to early stretch, took the lead passing the eighth pole, and won by 1 1/2 lengths over 5-2 favorite Battle of Hastings.
The Usual Q.T. finished 1 1/4 miles on turf in 1:59.69.
"He just couldn't have gotten a better trip," trainer Jim Cassidy said. "Victor said before the race that he was going to win. I've had guys tell me that before.
"But he was loaded down the stretch. I thought if he got beat, he'd have to fall down. He's an amazing horse."
The Usual Q.T. made his Grade 1 debut in the Hollywood Derby, and beat a strong field. Battle of Hastings was after his fifth stakes win of the year, while Take the Points was seeking his third consecutive Grade 1 win, having won the Secretariat Stakes at Arlington Park in August and the Jamaica Handicap at Belmont Park in October.
Battle of Hastings closed from ninth on the final turn to finish a half-length in front of 75-1 Acclamation, the longest shot in the field. Al Khali was fourth, followed by Rescue Squad, Meteore, Take the Points, Black Bear Island, Straight Story, Sal the Barber, Sir Al, and Blazing Spirit.
Battle of Hastings raced in traffic briefly on the turn, but closed well under jockey Garrett Gomez.
"Garrett said he was trying to find a place to go when the leaders were getting away," trainer Jeff Mullins said. "The traffic cost him."
Take the Points, the 9-2 second choice, was fourth for the first mile and faded to finish five lengths behind The Usual Q.T.
The Usual Q.T., who races for the partnership Don Van, Michal Nentwig, George Saadeh, and Jeffrey Byer, won his third consecutive stakes in the Hollywood Derby. He won the California Cup Mile for statebreds in his stakes debut on Oct. 3 and won the Grade 2 Oak Tree Derby at Santa Anita on Nov. 7.
By Unusual Heat, The Usual Q.T. has won 5 of 10 starts and $456,670.
Miesque: The Mailet scores over In the Slips
Turf has made the difference for The Mailet, who, after a pair of dull efforts on dirt, has rebounded magnificently. She won her second straight grass race on Sunday in the Grade 3, $100,000 Miesque Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Hollywood Park.
The Mailet ($25.40) held off the late bid from In the Slips to win by a half-length, with 2-1 favorite Connie and Michael another half-length back in third. Under jockey Joel Rosario, she completed one mile on firm turf in 1:35.05.
The Mailet, a daughter of Rock Hard Ten trained by Bruce Levine, was well beaten in her first two starts on dirt at Saratoga and Belmont Park, then scored a 43-1 upset against maidens at Belmont when moved to turf for the first time on Oct. 22. She arrived at Hollywood Park in time for Rosario to work her once before the race, on Nov. 22.
"She was a little nervous that day. It was her first time," Rosario said. "Today, she relaxed pretty good. I kept her outside, and she finished good."
- additional reporting by Jay Privman